Celebrities Like Shay Mitchell and Sophia Bush Are Once Again Standing Up for Cyntoia Brown
Last week, the Supreme Court of Tennessee ruled that Cyntoia Brown — a 30-year-old woman who was only 16 in 2004 when she shot and killed a man who solicited her for sex — must remain in prison for a total of 60 years, and not be eligible for parole until she has served 51 years.
Brown was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder in 2006, and has steadfastly maintained that she acted in self-defense against a man who she thought might hurt her.
Many people are outraged that Brown, a victim of child sex trafficking and abuse, was convicted and has lost her appeal. A chorus of celebrities have recently spoken out about Brown’s case, including Sophia Bush, Shay Mitchell, Common, and Mira Sorvino. They join a vocal cohort advocating for the last remaining legal recourse for Brown: to be granted clemency by Tennessee’s governor, Bill Haslam.
Civil rights groups including Black Lives Matter Tennessee and the prison abolitionist organizing collective Survived and Punished have mobilized around Brown’s case, protesting and bringing attention to the massive injustice of punishing a teenager for defending herself from an alleged predator.
Governor Haslam, a Republican, said earlier this week that he is considering clemency for Brown and will reach a decision before he leaves office in January.
Other celebrities, including Rihanna and Kim Kardashian, spoke up about Brown’s case last year. Rihanna drew attention to Brown’s case on her Instagram, and Kardashian offered her legal team’s services to Brown.
Brown’s case gained attention in the mainstream national press in 2011, when PBS’ Independent Lens series produced a documentary about her, called Me Facing Life: Cyntoia’s Story.
Mariame Kaba, a prison abolitionist organizer and educator who tweets under the handle @prisonculture and is a co-founder of Survived and Punished, tweeted on Wednesday that there “are hundreds of Cyntoias in your own states and they could use attention too.” Kaba encouraged everyone concerned by the incarceration of survivors of domestic violence to “do your own research, find out what the Governor in your state’s record is on clemency and then create a campaign to pressure them to do much more. It’s appalling that they have power to free people from cages and they rarely use it.”
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(Featured photo by Gabe Ginsberg/Getty)